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IES Grant

Title: Bridging Science and Practice for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Problems
Center: NCER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Evans, Steven Awardee: Ohio University
Program: Social and Behavioral Context for Academic Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (09/01/2021 – 08/31/2025) Award Amount: $1,997,602
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A210323

Co-Principal Investigator: Owens, Julie

Purpose: The goal of this study is to further develop and evaluate Beacon, a web-based system that helps educators make informed decisions about their choice of services and measures to help students with emotional and behavioral problems. The Beacon system is nearly operational for general education classrooms and school mental health professionals from K to 12. In this project, the research team will add services and assessments that can be provided by educators in alternative classrooms and finalize the full Beacon system.

Project Activities: After completing the development and refinement work through a collaborative process with stakeholders and other experts, the project team will test the fully functional system in a pilot study to gather data on the feasibility, usability, and impact of the system on the behavior of school professionals and student outcomes.

Products: Products  include a new component of the Beacon system (services and assessments for alternative classrooms) that will result in a fully functional and effective Beacon system with sections for general and alternative classroom education teachers and school mental health professionals from K to 12.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The project activities will take place in rural and suburban schools.

Sample: Participants will include between 12 and 15 educators, administrators, and school mental health professionals at each of 11 schools (5 elementary, 3 middle, and 3 high schools). The researchers will also collect data about students referred to the child study teams (with or without disabilities) for concerns related to emotional and behavioral problems at participating schools.

Intervention: Beacon is a web-based system that helps educators make informed decisions about their choice of services and measures to help students with emotional and behavioral problems. The system provides educators with information based on students' presenting problems and age. Users are informed about the levels of evidence supporting each of the potential services under consideration for a referred student. Materials are included to help staff learn how to implement services, assessment data are collected through text messages and emails, and data are available in figures to inform decisions about how to proceed with each student. Data are stored and tracked over time to facilitate decision making about services.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will conduct the pilot study using multiple-baseline single-case design studies across 8 schools in a manner consistent with What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) standards. Analyses will address the proximal outcome of educators' choices of evidence-based practices and the distal measures of changes in student outcomes. Research staff will attend child study team meetings at these 8 schools during the pilot study to collect data about feasibility, usage, student outcomes, and decisions pertaining to referred students.

Control Condition: The control condition for the pilot study are data from school child study team meetings when not using Beacon.

Key Measures: The researchers will measure feasibility and usability through established rating scales as well as observation and Beacon usage data. They will measure adherence to the child study team process with observation and usage data along with informal inquiries to school staff about their decisions to adhere or not adhere to specific elements of the process. They will measure student outcomes with two teacher ratings and the progress monitoring measures that are part of the Beacon system.

Data Analytic Strategy: The analysis of the single-case design research will be consistent with the recommended practices of visual analysis of graphed data. Specifically, the researchers will analyze (1) trends and levels among research conditions, (2) the amount of variability and overlap between conditions, (3) the immediacy with which treatment effects are observed, and (4) the consistency of data within similar conditions of different schools in each study. In addition, they will use multilevel modeling to explore predictors associated with students' outcomes.

Cost Analysis: The cost analysis will examine the costs to provide the Beacon system to a school including training, support, and use and maintenance of the software.